Lucena Position

Lucena Position

Jul 9, 2017, 3:31 AM |

Lucena Position

In Rook and pawn vs. Rook endings, there are three basic principles:

  1. The passed pawn must be supported by the King.
  2. The defending King must be kept as far as possible from the passer. This is done by cutting off the defending King with the Rook, either on the rank or file.
  • For attacker and defender, the Rook is best when placed behind the passer.

Always keep these principles in mind.

The following position’s winning method was published 500 years ago by Luis Ramirez Lucena.


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The lucena position is as valid today as it was then. In lucena position white will build a bridge, an effective strategy for all pawn positions (b-, c-, d-, e-, f-, and g-pawns) except those with the a-and h-pawns. In the above position Black's King is cut off on the f-file and is unable to cover the promotion square. To win the game, White's King will have to move aside and promote the pawn, but the initial try is a dead end: With

  1. Ke7 Re2+
  2. Kd6 Rd2+
  3. Kc6 Rc2+
  4. Kb6 Rd2
  5. Kc7 Rc2+
  6. Kd8

This way white achieves nothing.

To prevent Black from checking with his Rook, White needed to create cover for his King by building a protective bridge between his King and his Rook.

  1. Rf4 Rc1

Black waits because 1. … Re2 2.Rc4 would cover the c-file, preparing 3.Kc8 to promote the pawn.

  1. Ke7 Re1+
  2. Kd6 Rd1+
  3. Ke6

White drops the immediate threat to promote but is ready to play 5. Rf5 and 6. Rd5 to win. Black could play 4. ... Re1+, but then 5. Kd5 Rd1+ 6. Rd4 completes the bridge and wins the game. So black should play 4. … Kg6.

  1. Rg4+ Kh5
  2. Rg5 Re1+
  3. Kd6 Rd1+
  4. Kc6 Rc1+
  5. Kb5 Rb1+
  6. Ka4

White’s King comes dancing down the board and finally, d7-d8=Q will cost Black his Rook.

Mastering the Lucena position means the difference between drawing and winning.

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